T&T’s Soca Warriors will not be playing the Copa America play-off against Haiti in January as the confrontation between the Football Association (TTFA) and the national players heightened yesterday.
The Warriors have been calling for match fees for participation in several matches including the Concacaf Gold Cup, an international friendly against Nicaragua and World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the United States in November.
Several promises, including payments from gate receipts following the match against the United States in November have not been kept and statements from the recently elected president David John - Williams have left a sour taste in the mouths of the players.
John- Williams’ decision to discuss the match fees at Wednesday’s board meeting was seen as a delaying tactic and the announcement yesterday that a three-man committee has been appointed to resolve the issue, has again been cited as another move to frustrate the players.
“The president has already painted us as greedy men, chasing after money which the Association does not have,” said one player, “But it seems to us that he is simply bent on frustrating us and pushing us in a corner. What we are asking for is what is due to us. We simply do not understand why there is a need to have a committee to give us what is rightfully due to us.”
The three members of the committee are Joanne Salazar, Samuel Saunders and ex-Secondary Schools Football League president Ewing Davis. They were selected at Wednesday night’s Board meeting and mandated to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
Contacted yesterday, goalkeeper Jan Michael-Williams said the country will suffer the consequences if the players are not paid their match fees. He said this was likely to affect the World Cup qualifiers. Michael-Williams said the president knew about the situation before he took office on November 29.
“If they feel to pay the money they will pay, but if they feel not to pay I can tell you that the entire country will suffer as the players will not take the field in the coming World Cup qualifiers,” the goalkeeper said.
Under coach Stephen Hart, the country appears on the way to securing a spot at the World Cup in Russia 2018, a four points from two matches to date from a victory against Guatemala and a draw against the USA.
They will next face the first match against St Vincent and the Grenadines in March. Michael-Williams said no player has been contacted by any member of the committee. “We will listened to what the committee has to say when they meet but it is having a negative effect on us. And that is not right for the country.”
Attempts to contact John-Williams proved futile.